Is it Less or Fewer? The Correct Word Choice
Even writers can get confused about which word to use. So when I came across this easy way to remember how to choose between less and fewer, I was tickled.
It’s one of those things that’s so simple, you have to think “Why didn’t I notice that before?”
If you’re talking about something that can be counted, you use the word “fewer.” The way to remember is that in our language we use “a few” to mean 3 or 4 of something. In other words, we use the word “few” in place of an actual number.
If you’re talking about something you can’t precisely count, use “less.”
So: “There are fewer stop lights on Main than on Mission.” And “Driving on Main is less stressful than driving on Mission.”
Or: “There are fewer calories in an apple than in a slice of apple pie.” And “An apple is less fattening than a slice of apple pie.”
Funny – we’re often tempted to say “Less” when we should say “fewer,” but the opposite isn’t true.
You might (incorrectly) say “I hope there will be less homes in foreclosure next month,” but no one would say “There’s fewer fog this morning than there was yesterday.”
Words. I sure don’t envy anyone trying to learn English as a second language.